Since we learned that we would be delayed getting to the Bahamas we’ve been planning on spending a night or two at the Ft. Pierce City Marina to drop off my dad and visit my aunt and uncle who live in the area. On Wednesday we called to make a reservation and learned that they were dredging the channel and only allowing boats with less than 5′ draft into the marina. That change of plans seemed typical for this trip, so we called around and ended up going to Harbortown Marina just north of the Ft. Pierce inlet. On Wednesday afternoon we pulled into Harbortown, my uncle Bill met us at the boat, and the work began….
On Tuesday as we raised anchor I joked with Sabrina that this was the first time I’d pulled the anchor in shorts since before Labor Day (it was cold up north!) As we arrived at Harborside on Wednesday I realized that this was the first time since August that I had access to a hose while it was warm enough to wash the boat in bare feet! While Sabrina set off to do our mountain of laundry (cold weather generates a lot of clothes) I washed the boat, and prepared us for warm weather.
Thursday morning I woke up early, unable to sleep, and starting checking weather. As I browsed various sites and sources I started to notice an opening that might allow us to get to the Bahamas. There is a calming trend during daylight hours over the next couple days in our area. The ESE winds abate to around 10 knots, just enough to let us make headway in that direction. When Sabrina awoke we reviewed the information, and decided to make a run for it.
Our plans shifted in an instant. We decided to stay another night at Harborside to finish up our chores and get groceries before our crossing. We changed the oil, stowed our winter gear, defrosted the freezer, and cleaned the interior of the boat. Now that the diesel heater is turned off we can stow items along the heater ducts without risk of fire, so the boat cleaned up nicely.
The Gulf Stream has been calm during these ESE winds. The winds from the south don’t generate large waves because they’re not pushing against the current like winds with a northerly component would do. Seeing northerly winds forecast to move in this time next week further convinced us that we should give this a shot. And if the forecast proves correct we should be able to sail portions of the trip while motor-sailing when we’re too tight on the wind.
We plan on leaving tonight at dark out of the Ft. Pierce inlet. We’ll sail south on the west side of Gulf Stream until we arrive at West Palm. From there we’ll turn east and allow the Gulf Stream to push us north to the Bahamian Bank. If all goes as planned we’ll have the hook down in Bahamian waters by sunset on Saturday.
When cruising, normally the only time I try to avoid leaving on Friday for superstitious purposes is when we leave our home port of Chesapeake City. But as we depart Ft. Pierce tonight, I’m hoping that leaving on a Friday will change our luck!